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Education

Unions respond to Estyn announcement

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EstynTHE MINISTER for Education  and Skills, Huw Lewis, is proposing  a change to regulations to allow  Estyn to inspect schools and other  providers at least once every seven  years, instead of once every six years.  The change would take effect from  September 2016 and be reviewed again  after a seven-year period (one cycle of  inspections). The move will introduce  more flexibility into the planning of  inspections and allocation of resources.  Meilyr Rowlands, Chief Inspector,  says: “I welcome the flexibility  the proposal to move to a sevenyear  inspection period gives Estyn.  The extended inspection cycle will  allow us to be more responsive to  implementing any changes that may  result from our recent consultation  on inspections. Early analysis of the  responses show that there is support for  a more proportional approach.

We also  look forward to being fully involved in  shaping the new curriculum.”  Commenting on the Education  Minister’s proposal that the inspection  period for schools should be extended  to seven years to allow Estyn to be  fully involved in developing the new  curriculum, Chris Keates, General  Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest  teachers’ union in Wales, said:  “The NASUWT’s notes the  Minister’s concern for the workload of  the Welsh inspectorate, the workload  of teachers and schools merits equal  concern during this period of radical  change.  “Estyn, along with other  stakeholders in the education system,  has an important role in play in taking  forward the development of the new  curriculum, but it is teachers who  have the experience of delivering a  curriculum and understanding how  children learn and make the best  progress.

“In order for the new curriculum to  be a success, it is teachers who should  be at the heart of its development.  “The NASUWT would welcome  the positive engagement of Estyn with  schools on implementing the new  curriculum. Unfortunately, Estyn’s  approach to inspection has created a  climate of mistrust which needs to be  overcome before Estyn can play an  effective role in curriculum change.  “Education Scotland, Estyn’s  equivalent in Scotland, played a  positive role in supporting schools with  curriculum reform. It was only able to  do so because it had the trust of the  profession.”

Rex Phillips, NASUWT National  Official Wales, said: “The work to  develop and design the new curriculum  is fundamental to the future of the  Welsh education system.  “Those who will be at the heart  of delivering the curriculum must be  at the heart of its development. The  involvement of Estyn, the Consortia  and other stakeholders must be  additional to, not instead of, the direct  involvement of teachers.  “Previously, the Minister said that  the new curriculum should be built by  the profession, for the profession. We  expect him to keep to that pledge.”  Commenting on the Welsh  government announcement on Estyn,  Rob Williams, Director of Policy,  NAHT Cymru, the school leaders’  union for Wales, said: “we welcome  the announcement that the current six  year cycle of school inspections will be  extended to seven.

“This extra year will be crucial to  fully develop the recommendations in  Professor Graham Donaldson’s report.  It will provide the necessary space for  schools across Wales to work in the  most creative ways, and recognises  the need for Estyn to be able to release  pressure upon schools within the  current inspection cycle. This backs up  previous promises made by the Minister  to place trust in the profession in order  to work towards agreed common goals.  School leaders in Wales know that the  new inspection arrangements planned  for 2017 onwards have an opportunity  to play a vital part of the shared goal  of driving up standards in education.  The question of current added pressure  associated with an Estyn inspection has  now happily been addressed.  “NAHT has campaigned for this  extra time, which will help school  leaders to fully bring in the changes,  and will allow the inspectorate to be  fully involved in developing the new  curriculum

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Education

Welsh charities shortlisted for educational awards

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TWO Welsh charities are among those competing for prize funds of up to £5,000 as part of this year’s ScottishPower Foundation Awards, which celebrate benevolent work in local communities throughout the country.

Bangor University Reaching Wider North and Mid Wales Partnership has been shortlisted for its ‘Bright Sparks’ project which inspires school pupils across Wales to take an interest in STEM subjects and ultimately seek a career using the skills they pick up, as well as for its work to develop educational home-schooling packs enable young people to continue learning during lockdown.

Size of Wales, a climate change charity, has been shortlisted for its work to inspire the next generation to take more care of the planet and learn about the ways in which to tackle the climate emergency through its MockCOP programme.

In total, 14 charities from across the UK make up the shortlist of recipients of this year’s ScottishPower Foundation funding, which saw £1.2m awarded to 21 charities across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The annual awards, which are now in their seventh year, are an opportunity for projects to apply for additional funding with each category winner receiving £5,000 and the runners up awarded £2,500. 

Due to social distancing restrictions, the winners will be announced on ScottishPower’s Twitter channel – @ScottishPower – over the course of Awards Day at the beginning of December.

Nominated projects are judged in four categories: the Innovation Award, the Education Award and the Community Engagement Award, as well as the Charity Champion Award, which gives special recognition to the outstanding contribution made by an exceptional employee or volunteer who exemplifies what their organisation stands for. 

This year’s judging panel is made up of a host of experts from ScottishPower, the third sector, education and communications including Arthur McIvor, Senior Client Manager for Energy & Utility Skills; Juliet Simpson, Founder and CEO of Stripe Communications; Sheila Duncan, Human Resources Director for ScottishPower; and Melanie Hill, Executive Officer and Trustee of the ScottishPower Foundation.


Melanie said:
 “2020 has undoubtedly been an incredibly challenging period for many of the organisations that we work with. However – in the face of adversity – each and every charity on our awards shortlist has continued to support, educate and inspire those who rely on them, using the Foundation funding to make a real difference. We’re very proud to build on this and further recognise their achievements through the ScottishPower Foundation Awards.

“All our shortlisted finalists are fantastic examples of the amazing charitable work that goes on across the country every day, with people devoting themselves to others, pushing the boundaries for change and transforming lives in the process. I wish everyone on the shortlist the very best of luck for Awards Day and encourage everyone to follow our Twitter channel where we will be announcing the winners on 1st December.”

The ScottishPower Foundation was established in 2013 to make a significant and lasting contribution to society, enhancing the lives of people living in communities throughout the UK. It provides funding to help support the advancement of education, environmental protection, arts and culture and citizenship. It also supports charities who aim to provide relief from poverty, disability, or other disadvantages.

The charities across Wales shortlisted are:

Bangor University (Reaching Wider North and Mid Wales Partnership)

Bangor University (Reaching Wider North and Mid Wales Partnership) works alongside primary and secondary school pupils as well as adults with no formal qualifications to increase higher education participation among lower socio-economic groups.

Size of Wales

Size of Wales is a climate change charity with the aim of conserving an area of tropical rainforest twice the size of Wales. The organisation encourages the people of Wales to help tackle climate change by taking simple positive action, working with schools and businesses to raise funds for forests and raising awareness of the importance of forests in tackling climate change.

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Tir Coed build outdoor classroom for Cross Hands Primary

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The local charity Tir Coed teamed up with Cross Hands Primary School to design and install a locally grown woodland shelter to enable primary school pupils to benefit from outdoor lessons-even when
the rain pours!

Last year Cross Hands Primary School received funding from Carmarthenshire is Kind for their intergenerational project. The project brought the schoolchildren together with older people in the community. Through intergenerational activities, everyone involved increases social connectedness, reduces social isolation, learns from one another and has a great time!

Before the lockdown, Tir Coed was contracted to lead a group mainly made up of parents from the school on a shelter-building course. The attendees would gain knowledge and skills and the children and the older people would be able to use the shelter, a third generation now included in this
fantastic project. The plans, however, had to change due to restrictions and in an effort to have it ready for the children when they returned to school, three intrepid Activity Leaders braved the wet August weather to build the beautiful shelter .

Studies have shown that being in the outdoors significantly reduces the risk of spreading the Corona Virus. With this addition to their already impressive outdoor area, it is hoped that more learning can
take place outside the classroom. Deputy Head, Emma Walters said, “It looks amazing! I am very impressed with the shelter and I cannot thank Tir Coed enough for organising this. Additional covered space in the outdoors will mean that we can take more learning into our lovely nature
area.”

If you would like to find out more about the work of Tir Coed or have a project you would like our help with you can contact Nancy, the Carmarthenshire Coordinator: carms@tircoed.org.uk

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Education

Vital support for job seekers and employers in West Wales

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TO MATCH job seekers with employers and career agencies across West Wales, a virtual jobs fair is taking place on Wednesday 9 September.

The free online event will be hosted by Working Wales, which is delivered by Careers Wales, and is in partnership with Job Centre Plus teams across West Wales and the south west and mid Wales Regional Learning and Skills Partnership.

Now, more than ever, job seekers and employers are relying on online support to find jobs and fill vacancies.

The event will run through Working Wales’ Facebook channels and will be split into two regional events covering West Wales mid and south. 10am-11amis for job seekers and employers in Bridgend, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Powys and Neath Port Talbot. 2pm-3pm will focus on Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Swansea.

Attendees for the free event will have access to a wide variety of job vacancies from many sectors across West Wales as well as expert careers advice to support with job applications.

Working Wales isfunded by the Welsh Government and the European Social Fund and was launched by the Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, Ken Skatesin May 2019.

Within the first year the service has directly assisted over 37,000 people across Wales. Careers Wales chief executive, Nikki Lawrence said “We are delighted to be working with our partners in the west to deliver a virtual jobs fair. Our careers advice and guidance is a vital part of supporting the economy during this pandemic, and these online events allow us to effectively and safely continue reaching and supporting our customers during these challenging times.”

To register your interest in these events, follow Working Wales on Facebook @WorkingWales. If you are an employer with vacancies to fill please also get in touch.

Available to anyone over the age of 16,Working Wales provides a one-to-one, tailored employability advice and guidance service, supporting people across Wales with job searching, CV writing, interview preparation, training and upskilling as well as with redundancy support.

For more information on Working Wales visit: www.workingwales.gov.wales or call 0800 028 4844

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